Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that the government reached a “historic agreement” with the Greek Orthodox Church to settle the issue of Church assets, and changes in the salaries of clerics, who will no longer be civil servants but will be paid by the church through an annual state subsidy, as part of a constitutional revision aimed at changing relations with the state.
According to the joint statement issued after Tsipras’ statements, the two sides will set up a fund to manage and develop property claimed by both the Church and the state since 1952, along with any other asset the Church voluntarily transfers to this fund.
The agreement was reached at a meeting at the Maximos Mansion headquarters with Archbishop Ieronymos.
The revenues and obligations from the property development will be equally divided among the two sides.
Tsipras also said that clerics will no longer be considered civil servants and will, therefore, be excluded from their official payroll, the Single Payments Authority, however, the state will still pay annually the same amount it pays for their wages to the Church as a subsidy.
The annual subsidy will be paid into a special Church fund and will be used exclusively to pay the clergy.
“What we and this agreement are showing is our intention to move a step forward, with mutual respect for one another,” the Archbishop said.
“Following a long, detailed and sincere dialogue between the State and the Church, which was held in an atmosphere of understanding and respect, we are now able to take consensual and mutually acceptable and beneficial initiatives that relate to the reconfiguring the nature of our relationship,” Tsipras said, reading the joint communique.
The PM mentioned that the agreement set out to resolve historic issues and to “strengthen the Greek Church’s independence in relation to the Greek State, recognising the Church’s contribution and historic role in the State’s birth and formation of its identity.”